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Student iTeen Report: Back to school thoughts & advice

  • Written by Deidra Shores, Special to The New Tri-State Defender


The time has come for waking up early and staying up late with homework. That’s right, school. As of Monday morning, students all over the Mid-South are back in classrooms with their pencils sharpened and binders handy.

Deidra-Shores-160Personally, I’m a bit nervous about my junior year in high school. I haven’t always had the best study habits and this year is when I need them most. This isn’t 10th grade anymore. More is expected of you and you have greater responsibilities. Now that I’ve gotten my permit and started driving, I really am starting to understand the importance of this year as a whole.

I spoke with five Memphis teenagers about what they hope to get out of their junior and senior years of high school. Kayla Little, Eboni Johnson, Angelica Owens, Latifa Alijuma and Fredrick Alexander spoke with me about high-school life, including the things they are excited about and the things they fear.




Kayla Little is a junior at Cordova High School, where she is heavily involved in the Cordova High chamber orchestra. She has practice after school throughout the week and is involved in performances at various places around the city. Not only is Kayla a gifted violinist, she’s also involved in the MIFA C.O.O.L program – a college readiness program that provides the basics and more so that students are ready the day they head off for college.

One step closer to graduating, Kayla says she’s ready for all the excitement the 11th grade will bring with all old and new friends. Now, along with excitement, also come fears about the junior-year standardized tests that play a major role in the pursuit of college.

I asked Kayla for her advice to new sophomores. She said, “Take yourself a bit more seriously…grades and classes are more serious now than you think they are.”






Eboni Johnson, a senior at Middle College High School, has taken an interest in photography and it’s now a big part of her life in and outside of school. She is a part of the modeling society and a dedicated member of her school’s volleyball and basketball teams.

Her upcoming senior trips have her excited, as well as being a part of student council and homecoming.

Eboni’s advice for incoming juniors is that hard work is the key. She says if you do it right, you will really understand the meaning of hard work. She also says that new juniors should try their hardest on the A.C.T and take it as often as possible with the goal of getting better and better.

Eboni says that what scares her most is that she’s finally about to go off to college. There’s only one year left of living at home. She’s really focused on making the best grades she can and meeting every requirement for graduation.



Angelica-Owens-150Southwind High School senior Angelica Owens is an author, with a new book due for release in September. She loves shopping, sports, writing, and above all, talking.

With the end of high school in sight, Angelica is buckling down and getting prepared for college. Extremely excited about the senior prom, she isn’t afraid of anything about her senior year because she has been preparing for a while.

 Here’s her advise to the juniors: “Study like your life depends on it, because you have an endless number of tests.” Junior year, she says, must be taken very seriously because it’s preparing you for your senior year and eventually college.




Latifa Alijuma is a junior at Cordova high school and heavily involved in activities in and out of school, including F.B.L.A., future business leaders of America. She is also in the national Spanish honors society, which prepares students for the future in business. They frequently volunteer in disadvantaged neighborhoods and schools. They also compete in regional and national competitions.

Latifa has set a lot of personal goals for her junior year and she’s ready to accomplish them. She is taking all advanced placement classes and trying her best to pass them so she can get college credits.

 Her words of advice for rising sophomores are that it’s easy to get really lazy. But don’t do it. She says most tenth graders don’t understand the importance of the year until it’s over.

 Fredrick Alexander is a junior at Frasier High School, where he plays basketball. Now that he is a junior, graduation is feeling real, he said. He’s already looking into different colleges and universities, where he wants to major in engineering.

 He says what frightens him is the idea of several tests ahead. He is preparing for the A.C.T and S.A.T. and hopes to do well on both.

 Fredrick says that if he could give a word of advice to a new sophomore it would be to stay active in school and stay on top of your grades. Every little effort counts, he says.

 (Deidra Shores, former NBC “Today Show Kid Reporter” and student at Cordova High School, is the TSD iTeen Reporter.)


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